Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus got pulled into the furor over the president’s 2007 race speech, despite his efforts to highlight Vice President Joe Biden’s latest gaffe about the middle-class being buried during the last four years.
“I know that some people are pretty troubled by it, but the fact of the matter is that people have to watch that video on their own and draw their own conclusions,” he said in a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters.
But he revealed his own views of the previously obscured speech, in which Sen. Barrack Obama told an African-American audience that the federal government doesn’t care about them.
“I think that President Obama’s views shape his policies, and his policies in turn are having a very negative impact on our economy,” said Priebus.
“I don’t believe that government is the solution to the problems in this country, I think free enterprise is the solution to the problems in our country. I don’t think handouts are the solution to the problems in our country,” he said.
His answer came at the tail end of a morning phone conference that was intended to blast Biden’s Oct. 2 statement in Charlotte that the middle class “has been buried the last four years.”
Top Republicans, including vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, have highlighted Biden’s admission as they try to shape the media’s tone and the public’s mood prior to the Oct. 3 debate between Obama and Mitt Romney.
“We applaud the vice president for his honesty… the last four years have been a complete disaster for the middle class and we can’t afford four more years of this,” Priebus said.
Four million Americans have given up looking for work, “food prices are up, gas prices have doubled, insurance premiums have skyrocketed… the middle-class is shrinking as more middle-class Americans are falling into poverty,” Priebus said in the phone conference.
“Middle class Ohio voters are going to be looking for the candidate that has a plan that digs us out of this mess,” he said.
However, Obama’s race-tinged 2007 speech may hamper Priebus’ message because it could divert some media attention from the stalled economy.
When asked about the speech, Priebus hesitated before he seemed to link Obama’s statements in the speech to economic policies.
“I don’t believe that government is the solution to the problems in this country, I think free enterprise is the solution to the problems in our country,” he said.
“I just have a fundamental philosophical and political difference of opinion with the President… [and] his policies have completely devastated us as a economy,” he said. “I think it rests on his doorstep and I don’t think he’s willing to take responsibility for it.”